The summit ridge up to the second highest peak in Colorado, Mount Massive.

Colorado’s second highest peak is an intermediate-level fourteener that lives up to its tremendous name.

Mount Massive rises to 14,421 feet in elevation, offering some of the better views in the country.

While the standard route is a 14-mile, Class 2 climb up the eastern slopes, many opt for the 7.25-mile trek up the southwest side. Here’s a rundown of the latter:

After taking a narrow, four-wheel-drive road, hikers start from a well-marked trailhead. The first segment of path cuts through the forest, presenting hikers with a number of lower-risk creek crossings. Be ready for this by wearing waterproof hiking boots and by packing an extra pair of socks.

Eventually, the trail breaks above treeline, with a relentless onslaught of switchbacks to follow. During this push toward the summit, the trail transitions back and forth from dirt to knee-busting rock steps.

After finishing the section of switchbacks, hikers scramble along the ridge toward the top. Beware of false summits. There are several on the way, though thankfully they’re close to the end.

Once on top, hikers have a great view of Mount Elbert, the highest point in the state. On a clear day, peaks of the Elk Mountains can be seen.

The return trip along the same path is steep. Consider bringing trekking poles for this portion of the hike.

Spencer McKee manages the OutThere Colorado digital publication as the Director of Content and Operations. He also writes about outdoor recreation, travel news, and more. In his spare time, he loves to rock climb, trail run, and mountain bike.

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